Editorials

The Scrapper Rises Up!

Last week, ArenaNet announced the long-awaited elite specialisation for the engineer: the scrapper. (The complaining about names I shall leave to others.)

Way back in the distant past when we still didn’t know all of the professions that would be in the original release of Guild Wars 2, I was one of the proponents for a profession based around the theme of pioneering technology, making use of more advanced equipment than typically available to other professions through the use of skills. I had envisioned something along the lines of generating grenades and similar tools as environmental weapons for players and their allies rather than the kit-based system that ArenaNet chose, but on release the engineer certainly earned a spot as one of my preferred professions. Of late, though, I haven’t been enjoying the engineer as much as I have in the past. As a result, the engineer specialisation is one that I’ve been particularly watching out for, to see if it can return some polish to a profession that felt like it’s lost some of its shine.

Cease Movement For Period Of Percussion

The scrapper’s big draw is clearly the hammer, which provides the engineer with a true melee option that isn’t a kit. I’d have to admit that in the early days, I saw a deliberate design decision in this exclusion: With the rifle, pistol, and offhands, the engineer would always have a ‘conventional’ firearm at hand. While this was probably an appropriate thematic choice at the time, however, experience has shown that it may not have been the best for gameplay. Use of ranged kits can often make the rifle or pistol feel a little redundant. While redundancy can be a good thing, there have definitely been times where I’ve felt the engineer could do with a melee weapon underneath a ranged kit or two (or three) that doesn’t require a valuable utility slot.

A range of skills with a defensive focus seems aimed towards helping the scrapper survive in melee, with or without a range-oriented kit.

Personally, my preference had been to mace rather than hammer, allowing for the melee weapon to be combined with shield or offhand pistol (and for the use of the wrench skin, having access to the combination of mace dazes and throwing static shields like Aetherblade Thumpers, and so on). The hammer skills, however, seem intended to offer similar defensive functions to what a mace/shield combination might have offered, including the brief projectile reflection of Electro-Whirl, the evasion of Rocket Charge, and the block of Shock Shield.

The focus on mobility and defensive skills for the scrapper’s hammer may well be the result of deliberate choices on ArenaNet’s part. While it will likely be common to combine the scrapper with at least one kit for a ranged attack, the hammer seems designed through a combination of mobility (including generous access to superspeed) and defensive skills to serve as a scrapper’s sole weapon in a pinch, despite the disadvantages that can come from being limited to a melee weapon.

I will admit, however, to raising an eyebrow at Thunderclap. A ranged stun fits well with making the hammer suitable as the scrapper’s only weapon, but feels a bit magical in nature. The tooltip gives a technobabble-esque explanation that the scrapper ionises the air to generate a lightning strike. However, I’m inclined to think it might be more likely that the scrapper has scavenged some asura magitech to generate that lightning rather than it being a purely technological process.

With the power of his hammer, Thor did smite the jotun…

Call In The Choppers!

The scrapper’s other feature is, of course, the gyro drones, likely miniaturised and automated forms of the charrcopters we’ve seen around Pact warzones. Since these were first observed (and later partially datamined) there has been some pushback to what some have likened to moving turrets and others have likened to spirit weapons: Many players prefer to minimise their reliance on AI for their skills and effects to function. By having a limited lifespan if they’re not destroyed first, the characteristics of the gyros do seem like they might be closest to spirit weapons. However, one of the big downsides of spirit weapons is that they’re often difficult to keep track of, let alone getting them to stay where they’ll do the most good. The scrapper seems to have a bit more control over the gyros, with the more offensive-oriented ones set to attack enemies within a specified area (with the assistance of any fields there) or homing in like a flying bomb on a single foe.

Other gyros are more supportive in nature, providing healing, damage absorption, condition removal, and stealth in an area. Most of these are essentially new ways of doing things the engineer could do before (although possibly more convenient), with the exception of the bulwark gyro; with its toolbelt skill, it feels reminiscent of the mesmer’s Phantasmal Defender combined with an inverted Feedback (but without a requirement to target a specific enemy). The condition removal seems to me to be quite welcome – as mentioned in Points of Interest, in sPvP at least this feels like a significant weakness for engineers. While it’s possible to build against it, this requires investing in a specialisation and multiple utility skills, which are generally more important for the engineer than other professions. Due to the engineer’s greater reliance on utility skills, this makes using utility skills more expensive to an engineer build than say, a guardian or elementalist: The cleanse-bot seems like it will offer a suitable alternative. Meanwhile, the ‘function gyro’, allowing for automated revival of allies or downing of enemies (and possibly covered with Stability through Stabilisation Core), could have the potential to revolutionise PvP tactics, although for compulsory traits the scrapper’s minor traits do seem like they will have less potential in PvE situations.

Squadrons of gyros can grant multiple benefits to scrappers and their allies… as long as they last.

New Components, New Combinations

Like the elementalist, the engineer has traditionally been a profession with a strong focus on setting up and finishing combos to achieve the best effect, primarily through blasting fire fields for Might and the occasional smoke field for Stealth. The scrapper continues this, with most of the gyro toolbelt skills generating a combo field (the exceptions being the reverse feedback shield of the bulwark gyro and the sonar pulse of the stealth gyro). However, as there are no blast finishers or fire fields in the scrapper specialisation, it doesn’t simply offer more of the same. Instead, the scrapper offers greater access to generally less-preferred finishers like Leap and Whirl.

While this might normally be seen as a disadvantage (leap and whirl finishers tend to be nice when they happen, but not something you build a strategy around), the scrapper has generous access to a field that is quite rare in the base game: lightning. In the core game, this was pretty much only available to elementalists who had little incentive to self-finish the field. The scrapper, however, can potentially have more lightning fields than any elementalist can produce, then finish those fields with whirl for vulnerability or blast finishers for swiftness (and potentially healing through Rapid Regeneration). Most frighteningly, however, is the potential to self-combo with Rocket Charge, potentially generating three dazes and additional conditions through Expert Examination. Combined with Thunderclap and drones dazing (and maybe generating lightning fields) when they die, this means that the scrapper may well compete with mesmers for being able to suck stacks of stability from their opponents.

The scrapper specialisation adds plenty of combo fields to the engineer – but is more likely to whirl than to blast them.

A Spit Of Polish?

So, with all this considered, do I think this will be something that can revive flagging enthusiasm?

It’s hard to say – the proof will be in the testing, after all, with the opportunity to do so likely coming the weekend after that*. However, I think there’s potential. One of the reasons for my growing dissatisfaction is that one part I don’t really enjoy is the style of the grenade kit (and, to a lesser extent, the other explosive kits) while the balancing of the engineer has been feeling more and more like you need to have those in order to succeed. The scrapper, however, seems like it might well offer a viable alternative for engineers who prefer playstyles that don’t involve tossing physically implausible trios of grenades at the ground beneath their enemy’s feet.

*Disclaimer: I have no special knowledge of when the final Beta Weekend Event will occur, this is simply an educated guess based on TwitchCon being next weekend and ArenaNet needing some time to respond to feedback.

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